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Friday, September 9, 2016
World Igbo Congress saved by American court
Once again, the United States Federal Court has intervened to save World Igbo Congress from the claws of those individuals who have allowed their selfish interests to trump the collective interest of Ndi-Igbo in the Diaspora. Prior to recently concluded World Igbo Congress convention in New York that witnessed the attendance of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, Gov Obiano, the executive governor of Anambra State, and Gov Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State, Judge Nancy F. Atlas, Senior United States District Judge of the United Sates district Court for the southern district of texas houston division entered a judgment on August 26, 2016 in favor of the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs, World Igbo Congress INC. and JOE N. ETO, In His Capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors sued CHIEF CYRIL NWAGURU and DR. LARRY UDORJI for the illegal use of a trademark name, "World Igbo Congress." After all the testimonies, the court found, "In accordance with the Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law issued this day, it is hereby ORDERED that judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiff World Igbo Congress Inc. ("WIC Inc.") on its federal trademark infringement claim, but no monetary damages or attorneys' fees are awarded."
In its "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law," the court said, "Witnesses at trial testified without contradiction that the Board of Directors is WIC Inc.'s governing body. See, e.g., Testimony of Cyprian Osuoha, Jeff Ohanaja, Uzoma Ofodu, Ichie Chibuzo Onwuchekwa, Cyril Nwaguru. Therefore, the Court finds that the owner of the "World Igbo Congress" trademark is the WIC Inc. Board of Directors. There is no evidence that the WIC Inc. Board of Directors has authorized either Defendant to use WIC Inc.'s trademark."
The first time World Igbo Congress (WIC) was in danger of being destroyed was in 2012 when the Court-Appointed Special Master, Atty. Gerald M. Birnberg conducted an election that ushered in the leadership of Joe Nze Eto. Before that election, WIC reached the flagging condition that was marred with controversies and selfish litigations.
It started with an acrimonious election in 2005 in Los Angeles. There, Ichie Chibuzor Onwuchekwe emerged as the organization's chairman. The people gave Onwuchekwe an unfettered opportunity to lead WIC. Lurking behind the tenuous support was an aspiration of some Board members to take another crack at the leadership of WIC in 2008.
Realizing the strong quest to unseat him, Onwuchekwe began plotting for his perpetual reign. WIC, under Onwuchekwe, began to float various versions of its constitution; manipulations and misinterpretations of WIC's bylaw became prevalent. Collective interests of WIC became secondary while Onwuchekwe, in his conceited manner, continued his foolhardy and demented overreach. Interestingly, he lost his affiliate membership in Houston, becoming a chairman without a home organization in violation of the WIC's constitution and bylaw.
The next election was in 2008 in Tampa, Florida and Ichie Chibuzor Onwuchekwe was a candidate to the objection of Ndi-Igbo in the Diaspora. The issue was without an affiliate; Onwuchekwe didn't qualify to run. However, he used the incumbency power and nefarious activities to scheme himself in as a candidate. Thus, the Tampa tiff produced two parallel WIC factions.In 2009 Onwuchekwe's group took the other faction to court for the ownership right of World Igbo Congress incorporation and logo. According to Eto, "Upon losing the opportunity to continue as second term WIC chairman at the 2008 convention and elections, Chibuzor Onwuchekwe and some of his officers brought a lawsuit in a Federal district court in Texas against WIC Board of Directors, the WIC House of Delegates and the newly elected officers for infringement of the WIC name and logo.
The presiding federal court judge, Judge Kenneth Hoyt, on July 31, 2009 ruled that Onwuchekwe and co have no standing to bring the lawsuit. Onwuchekwe appealed this ruling twice at the same court, failing to convince the court to vacate the ruling. In September of 2009, they took their appeal to a federal appeals court in New Orleans. In December of 2010, a three judge panel affirmed the decision of the trial court and awarded court costs against Onwuchekwe, which he has failed to pay." Eto continued, "Following their loss in Tampa, Florida at the convention in 2008, Onwuchekwe incorporated a parallel WIC in Washington, D.C, and used the certificate of this incorporation to file for ownership of the WIC Name and Logo, at the US Trademark and Patent Court."
Since 2008, both factions held parallel conventions. In its 2011 convention, Onwuchekwe's group had an election in Toronto where he supported the candidacy of Chief Larry Udorji. "Chief Larry Udorji was definitely Onwuchekwe's candidate," echoed Atty. Charlie Chikezie. Chikezie expressed disappointment in how Ichie Onwuchekwe bungled the leadership of WIC after 2008. Well, after Tampa debacle, Atty. Charlie Chikezie introduced Umu Ada Igbo to WIC, which Kate Ezeofor founded in Nigeria. Ezeofor wanted WIC to help her suggest a leader in the US-an unsavory bait. Unfortunately, Onwuchekwe got tangled with Umu Ada Igbo; thus, a division ensued. Onwuchekwe sided with Madam Grace Adaozor. "By meddling in the leadership of Umu Ada Igbo, Onwuchekwe got involved and got distracted," Chikezie agonized. This eventually led Onwuchekwe through a path littered with self-destructive pikes that devoured him.
Nonetheless, relief was on the way-"a fair and open election" that led to a possible "rebirth and reunification" of WIC. Based on the agreement reached by the three factions, Judge Kirkland ordered the same on January 20, 2012. Upon the court order, Atty. Gerald M. Birnberg, the Court-Appointed Special Master, expressed confidence that he would conduct a credible election. Considering the fact that election manipulations had plagued WIC, one wondered if the jinx would that time be broken.
In our email communication, Birnberg exuded glimmer of hope for Ndi-Igbo. He said that time, "My goal is to conduct a fair and transparent election for officers of the World Igbo Congress, Inc. in full compliance with the Court Order, all to the ultimate end of, hopefully, creating the opportunity for the World Igbo Congress to achieve re-unification and return to focusing in a unified manner on its mission of contributing to the advancement of the Igbo people, rather than diluting its ability to achieve such positive results because of the internal strife which has precluded such work for the past four years." During that period, Gerald M. Birnberg said, "And very importantly, I am counting on the good faith and fundamental honesty and integrity of the Igbo people and their desire to get the problems of the past behind them in order to move forward with this organization for the sake of Igbo people generally," he continued. Gerald M. Birnberg conducted a credible election where the current chairman, Joe Eto emerged.
THE IGBO RANT
BIBLICAL TRADITIONS OF NDI IGBO BEFORE THE MISSIONARIES CAME TO AFRICA* IGBO 101.
THE IGBO TRIBE AND ITS FEAR OF EXTINCTION
The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities
Written by Emeka Maduewesi
~on fb. 28th September, 2016.
The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.
The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.
In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.
Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.
In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.
The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.
Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.
The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.
The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.
The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.
This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.
RT. HON. DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE TO DR. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1981)
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